Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org
The NATO Founding Act was agreed to between the U.S. and Russia in 1997 in order to provide to Russia’s leader Boris Yeltsin some modicum of assurance that America wouldn’t invade his country. When his predecessor Mikhail Gorbachev had ended the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact military alliance in 1991, the representatives of U.S. President GHW Bush told him that NATO wouldn’t move “one inch to the east” (toward Russia), but as soon as Gorbachev committed himself to end the Cold War and to be now the leader only of Russia (no longer of any Soviet Union), Bush told his agents, regarding what they had all promised to Gorbachev (Bush’s promise which had been conveyed through them), “To hell with that! We prevailed, they didn’t.” In other words: Bush’s prior instructions to them were merely his lies to Gorbachev, his lies to say that the U.S. wouldn’t try to conquer Russia (move its forces eastward to Russia’s borders); but, now, since Gorbachev was committed and had already agreed that East Germany was to be reunited with and an extension of West Germany (and the process for doing that had begun), Bush pulled that rug of lies out from under the end of the Cold War — it didn’t really end (though Gorbachev had been deceived to think it had) — and then began the long process after that time, to surround Russia by NATO troops and missiles and then (as Obama with even greater intensity has been aiming to do) ultimately to swallow it up, like it swallowed Ukraine in February 2014, right on Russia’s doorstep.
Yeltsin was mortified that Bush’s successor Bill Clinton was in the process of trashing that promise which Bush’s agents had given to Gorbachev, and that Clinton was allowing into NATO the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland (three countries that formally joined NATO two years later, in 1999); so, this NATO Founding Act was the only ‘assurance’ Russia had, to indicate that the U.S. government wasn’t going to place the Russian government into an intolerable position of nuclear war: Russia’s being surrounded by NATO nuclear missiles on and near Russia’s borders. What the NATO Founding Act said was that, for the “foreseeable” future, NATO would engage in no “additional permanent stationing of substantial ground combat forces,” a very vague commitment, which didn’t even specify where the commitment would apply — how near to Russia’s borders, etc. — but it’s all that the West would sign to under Bill Clinton, except for another vague commitment: “to strengthen stability by further developing measures to prevent any potentially threatening build-up of conventional forces in agreed regions of Europe, to include Central and Eastern Europe.” In any event, it’s all dead now: the U.S. and its NATO partners have boldly violated even those vague terms. America has virtually torn up the document.
On 13 June 2016, the U.S. threw into history’s trash bin the NATO Founding Act, and did it unilaterally, leaving Russia totally out in the cold. NATO quietly announced that it would command a large force on Russia’s periphery and that “NATO will command the units both in peacetime and moment of crisis”. Though no one was using the Founding Act’s language, this clearly will be “additional permanent stationing of substantial ground combat forces.” It also ends all the nice language in the NATO Founding Act — e.g.: “NATO and Russia do not consider each other as adversaries. They share the goal of overcoming the vestiges of earlier confrontation and competition and of strengthening mutual trust and cooperation.” All gone.
On 25 February 2016, the U.S. General Philip Breedlove, who was the Supreme Commander of NATO and the one person who possessed the power to order a NATO invasion of Russia, had told the U.S. Congress, that: “Russia has chosen to be an adversary and poses a long-term existential threat to the United States and to our European allies and partners.” It wasn’t quite a declaration of war against Russia (only the U.S. President could do that), but close.
Leading up to that, the White House had announced on 2 February 2016, a quadrupling of U.S. funding for its European Reassurance Initiative (ERI), which funds NATO’s Operation Atlantic Resolve, which is rushing tens of thousands of troops and advanced American weaponry to and near Russia’s borders. President Obama said that in order to address “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine almost two years ago, … today my Administration announced a four-fold increase in ERI funding for Fiscal Year 2017. An ERI funding level of $3.4 billion will enable the United States to strengthen our robust military posture in Europe and improve our ability to uphold our Article 5 commitments to NATO members.” He was asserting that in order to supposedly defend Ukraine against “Russia’s aggression” (though Ukraine isn’t a NATO member and so isn’t subject to the the NATO Treaty’s Article V military protection clause), the United States was quadrupling its forces elsewhere on Russia’s borders, so that if Russia invaded a NATO member country on Russia’s borders (which post-Soviet Russia has never done and which would be insane for Russia to do), a blitz U.S. invasion of Russia would be the response, in accord with NATO’s Article V. But since Russia would never do a thing like that, what was Obama’s real motive? Perhaps it was and is to invade Russia regardless. But what could be the pretext for doing that?
On 15 June 2016, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, as if Ukraine already were a NATO member:
We stand firm in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Allies do not, and will not recognise the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea. And we will continue to call on Russia to stop its destabilisation of Ukraine. Russia needs to stop supporting the militants, and withdraw its forces and military equipment from Ukrainian territory.
He was saying that the residents of Crimea shouldn’t have any say in the matter of whether Crimea should be restored to Russia (of which it had been a part until the Soviet dictator transferred it from Russia to Ukraine in 1954 — Stoltenberg was saying that that dictator’s action must never be reversed, no matter if more than 90% of Crimeans want it to be reversed; he was saying that the current Ukrainian government owns them, and they have no say over who rules them).
Obviously, if Ukraine’s application for membership in NATO turns out to be accepted, then at that time, NATO (in other words, the U.S.) will reiterate its demand for Russia to reverse its having accepted the overwhelming desire of the Crimean people to have their Russian nationality restored to them, and if Russia fails to comply with NATO’s (i.e., with the American government’s) demand, then there will be a nuclear war, in order to force the issue.
The U.S. government, or at least its present personnel, are apparently willing to go to nuclear war in order to force the people of Crimea to be ruled by the Ukrainian coup-regime that the U.S. had installed in Ukraine in February 2014 and which was wanting to kill them if it could not conquer them.
Of course, one cannot predict whether the people who control the U.S. government will go all the way in that matter, but right now, this is a nuclear showdown in the making, and apparently the only people who are seriously worried about it are Russians. Now, why would that be? Why would Westerners be so nonchalant about such a matter? Why would they not be furious against the governments that are reigning over them and threatening nuclear war in order to coerce Crimeans to be Ukrainians? Could it be that Westerners don’t realize how dangerous this situation is? Could it be that the Western ‘news’ media haven’t been reporting the situation honestly to them? Could it be that democracy is actually gone from the Western countries? Could it be?
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.